Billy Graham & Louis Zamperini – The Story Behind the Film Unbroken

Cathy-Lynn-Grossman_avatar_1379121614-96x96This guest post written by Cathy Lynn Grossman explains just how much is left out of the new movie Unbroken, a film about WWII hero Louis Zamperini. The movie will be released on Christmas day.

Two October evenings in 1949 brought together an alcoholic war hero and a fiery young evangelist. From then on, neither would be the same.

The preaching in that rented circus tent in Los Angeles changed Louis Zamperini, then 32 — who put away the bottle forever and devoted the rest of his life to Christian testimony and good works.

And those Los Angeles nights also changed the preacher, Billy Graham, and the future course of American evangelicalism as well. In Graham’s autobiography, “Just As I Am,” he calls that chapter of his life “Watershed.”

On Christmas Day, a movie directed by Angelina Jolie about Zamperini’s extraordinary survival amid the horrors of Japanese POW camps opens in theaters. “Unbroken,” is based on the award-winning book by Laura Hillenbrand.

The film version of “Unbroken, however, ends before he reaches Graham’s tent revival, the climactic chapter of Hillenbrand’s best-seller.

Yet it was this eight-week sin-slaying marathon where the story of “Billy Graham as an icon begins,” said Duke Divinity School historian Grant Wacker, author of “America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation,” published just before Graham’s 96th birthday last month.

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On the night of Oct. 23, Zamperini heard Graham say: “If you suffer, I’ll give you the grace to go forward.”

Hillenbrand, drawing on more than 70 interviews with Zamperini for “Unbroken,” tells how he recalled all the miraculous moments when his body might have broken and yet did not.

But on that night, Zamperini’s broken soul was touched. He walked down the sawdust aisle toward the Graham.

Over the next six decades, hundreds of thousands heard those words and did the same.

“God has spoken to you,” Graham said then, and ever after. “You come on.”

Click here to read the entire article.

Your partner in ministry,

Nelson

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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church planter, coach and church growth strategist, working with churches in over 45 denominations. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in San Francisco and Boca Raton, FL. He first developed the Assimilation System 10 years ago at the Journey Church and has since implemented and improved these strategies with over 3,000 churches across all sizes and denominations. He started coaching pastors in 2006 and has personally coached over 2100+ senior pastors, helping them break common growth barriers like 125, 250, 500, 1000 and beyond, all while maintaining personal life and ministry balance. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has trained more than 50,000 church leaders (3,000+ church planters). He is the author of over 85 church growth resources and 17+ books, including Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests Into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church and The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life and Ministry. His continued mission is to help church leaders around the world cooperate with God in creating healthy, thriving churches. Nelson is married to Kelley and together they have one son, Alexander.

Nelson SearcyEvangelism, Leadership

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